MAKE my own WINE
Nothing feels as satisfying and authentic as making your first batch of wine from fresh grapes. And there's no better time to try it than in early autumn, when grapes all over the country are ripening in vineyards and backyard gardens.
Dry Red Table Wine
- 18 lbs. ripe red grapes
- 1 campden tablet (or 0.33g of potassium metabisulfite powder)
- Tartaric acid, if necessary
- Table sugar, if necessary
- 1 packet wine yeast (like Prise de Mousse or Montrachet)
1. Harvest grapes once they have reached 22 to 24 percent sugar (22° to 24° Brix).
2. Sanitize all equipment. Place the grape clusters into the nylon straining bag and deposit the bag into the bottom of the food-grade pail. Using very clean hands or a sanitized tool like a potato masher, firmly crush the grapes inside the bag. Crush the campden tablet (or measure out 1 teaspoon of sulfite crystals) and sprinkle over the must in the nylon bag. Cover pail with cheesecloth and let sit for one hour.
3. Measure the temperature of the must. It should be between 70° and 75° F. Take a sample of the juice in the pail and measure the acid with your titration kit. If it's not between 6 to 7 grams per liter then adjust with tartaric acid.
4. Check the degrees Brix or specific gravity of the must. If it isn't around 22° Brix (1.0982 SG), add a little bit of sugar dissolved in water.
5. Dissolve the yeast in 1 pint warm (80° to 90° F) water and let stand until bubbly (it should take no more than 10 minutes). When it's bubbling, pour yeast solution directly on must inside the nylon bag. Agitate bag up and down a few times to mix yeast. Cover pail with cheesecloth, set in a warm (65° to 75° F) area and check that fermentation has begun in at least 24 hours. Monitor fermentation progression and temperature regularly. Keep the skins under the juice at all times and mix twice daily.
6. Once the must has reached "dryness" (at least 0.5° Brix or 0.998 SG), lift the nylon straining bag out of the pail and squeeze any remaining liquid into the pail.
7. Cover the pail loosely and let the wine settle for 24 hours. Rack off the sediment into a sanitized one-gallon jug, topping up with a little boiled, cooled water to entirely fill the container. Fit with a sanitized bung and fermentation lock. Keep the container topped with grape juice or any dry red wine of a similar style. After 10 days, rack the wine into another sanitized one-gallon jug. Top up with dry red wine of a similar style.
8. After six months, siphon the clarified, settled wine off the sediment and into clean, sanitized bottles. Cork with the hand-corker.
9. Store bottles in cool, dark place and wait at least six months before drinking.
Red wine is fermented with the pulp and skins. This "cap" will rise to the top, so you need to "punch it down" frequently with a sanitized utensil.